Paul goes to China and Japan to show Ports with PFV

Our work as a family is not only about making wines from our vineyards in the Douro, we then need to get out and sell the wines. So last week I took my dinner jacket (tuxedo in American) to the dry-cleaners as I am travelling to Asia on the 14th Nov.

Part of our selling effort is made with our friends in the PFV and it is with them that I am travelling next week. This is a group of independent family-owned wine producers who work together to promote their wines. The world of distribution and retail is tough and challenging, it is not easy to get our wines into new markets and into the best wine shops and restaurants if you do not have the power of a big group behind you.  Working with a group of independent family producers like the PFV has helped each of us to open new markets and to find new customers.

So next week we are in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai showing our wines at various tastings and dinners. We are working with the Shangri-La Hotel group and will be doing various events in these great hotels in these three cities. Dinners are taking place in Hong Kong at the Island Shangri-La on 16 November, in the Tokyo Shangri-La Hotel on the 18 November, and at the Pudong Shangri-La in Shanghai on the 20 November.

The tastings and dinners will be remarkable and memorable events. We are 11 producers and between us we represent many many centuries of tradition and experience in making wines from some of the world’s greatest wine regions. In every case a senior member of each family will be present and we take with us some of our very greatest wines. Guests will be able to discuss each wine with the person actually responsible for making it. The following producers will be travelling together next week: Alessia Antinori (Marchesi Antinori), Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (Château Mouton Rothschild), Laurent Drouhin (Maison Joseph Drouhin), Egon Müller (Egon Müller Scharzhof), Etienne Hugel (Hugel et Fils), Hubert de Billy (Champagne Pol Roger), Marc Perrin and Pierre Perrin (Perrin et Fils), Paul Symington (Graham’s, Warre’s and Dow’s Port), Juan-Maria Torres (Torres), Sebastiano Rosa (Tenuta San Guido) and Pablo Alvarez (Vega Sicilia).

I will be showing our Graham’s 2007 and 1983 Vintage Ports at the Press Tastings and serving the Graham’s 1994 Vintage Port at the Gala Dinners. Serena Sutcliffe, Master of Wine and head of Sotheby’s Wine Department will introduce each wine at the dinners and will be responsible for auctioning a unique 12 bottle case containing one of the finest wines from each producer.  We hope to raise a substantial sum of money in this way for a local city charity that has been nominated by the Shangri-La.

You will probably not be surprised to know that within the PFV, we are actually all very good friends. These trips are a bit crazy, with long flights, many time-zone changes, mad rushes to each airport and late nights, but we have a good laugh a lot of shared memories and we hugely enjoy each others wines and above all each others company. I recall Johnny Hugel’s famous comment; ‘In general I find that people who like wine are a lot nicer than people who do not like wine’.

My problem is that Port is usually always served last. How do I keep the attention of the audience after 10 other world-class wines?!

Wish me luck,

Paul